Do you want to visit one of the most impressive places in Central America? Semuc Champey is wild nature in its purest form: a complex of turquoise natural pools located in the jungle of Guatemala. In this post you will find all the information to visit this little paradise.
What is Semuc Champey and why is it worth visiting?
Semuc Champey is a formation of natural turquoise green pools located on the Cahabón riverbed. It is a must visit for nature lovers not only for the beauty of the pools, but also its surroundings: the Guatemalan tropical jungle.
Where is Semuc and how to get there?
The nearest town to Semuc Champey is Lanquin, which is located about 300km northeast of Guatemala City. It is reachable by car, tourist shuttle or public bus. If you are on a budget, I would recommend the tourist shuttle, as the public bus is a little bit unreliable and has endless stop overs.
Either way, due to the precarious state of the roads, the drive to Lanquin is long, so be patient and assume that you will spend most of the day on the road – it’s a good opportunity to look at the scenery, sleep or do some photo cleaning!
These are the places in Guatemala with direct shuttle to Lanquin (price updated as May 2019):
Guatemala City – 9 hours – 200 Q – departure at 9:00 am.
Antigua – 10 hours – 200 Q – departure at 8:00h
Panajachel (Lake Atitlan) – 12 hours – 330 Q – departs at 7:30am
Flores (Lake Peten) – 8 hours – 250 Q – departure at 8:00h
Where to stay?
Option 1: Stay at Lanquin
The most frequent base camp to visit Semuc is the nearby village of Lanquin, located 10 km from the natural pools. As the buses and shuttle stop here, you don’t need to book the accommodation in advance and you can choose from the many places available and negotiate a good price. Also there is a variety of restaurants and stores.
The disadvantage is that it will be more expensive to visit Semuc, since to get there you will have to hire a cab (70-90 Q each way) or arrange for a group tour, which limits the time of your visit.
Option 2: Sleep in one of the accommodations near Semuc
The pros are clear: you can walk to the natural enclave, avoid the rush hours and stay as long as you want. You can also enjoy the beauty of the natural environment, do some trekking in the surroundings or tubing in the Cahabón river. You can also save up some money as most accommodations offer free transfer to and from Lanquin if you book 2 nights or more.
The cons: you should choose carefully where to stay to avoid disappointments. I stayed at Greengos, a party hostel which was quite noisy as they were building the swimming pool at the time I was there.
Visiting Semuc Champey on your own
It is very easy and cheap to visit this natural wonder on your own. Tickets cost 50Q and are purchased directly at the ticket office, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Upon entering the natural enclave you have two marked and very accessible paths: one to the pools and the other one to the viewpoint. My advice is to walk first to the viewpoint and go down the path that takes you directly to the natural pools. The views from the viewpoint are worth it, with a panoramic view of the Cahabón River, the pools, the jungle and the mountains.
Visiting Semuc Champey with a tour
The tours can be hired directly at your accommodation for about 300-400 Q. The departure is around 9:00 and includes a visit to the Kam’ba caves and nearby waterfalls in Lanquin, the entrance to Semuc Champey, with a visit to the viewpoint and free time to swim in the pools.